Christianity 201

October 13, 2020

If He Builds It, They Will Come

Forgive the Field of Dreams reference, but at least we can’t be accused of siphoning readers away from the primary site of today’s discussion.

This is our fourth time visiting the blog Preacher Pollard but our first time with Dale Pollard. This is one of those topics that deals with the context and background of the life of the incarnate Christ. Click through (on the title below) to read more from Dale, Neal and others.

“Was Jesus Really A Carpenter?”

Dale Pollard

  • “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us? And they took offense at Him. Then Jesus said ‘a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown among relatives and those of his household.”Mark 6:4
  • “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenters son?”Matthew 13:54
  • Was Jesus a carpenter and were these fair questions to ask Him?

      Let’s examine FOUR quick factors:

Factor 1 – LOCATION: Nazareth was located 3 miles from Sepphoris which at the time was developing quickly as part of Herod   Antipas beautification project. It would eventually be known as “The Jewel Of All Galilee.” Jesus would have witnessed and perhaps helped his father cut stone in the quarry that was half way between Nazareth and the developing city.

Factor 2DEMAND – In the days of Jesus there weren’t many trees in the area, and there still aren’t many today. To try and make a living working with a material that wasn’t readily available or even used much would be difficult.

Factor 3 LANGUAGE – “Tekton” simply means “builder” The Messiah was a handyman, and the spiritual connections in your mind may  already be forming.

Factor 4 – SCRIPTURE – Luke 20:17ff – Jesus tells the parable about the wicked tenants, after Jesus is questioned about His authority in the temple by the scribes/chief priests, He looks at them and says “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” quoting from Psalm 118.

Again quoted by Peter as he defends himself in front of religious leaders in Acts 4 “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you the builders.” It was a reference to David’s lineage to the  Messiah and it would have been familiar to Jewish stone builders.

So with this in mind, let’s revisit the questions asked by those in Jesus’ hometown

  1. Where did this man get this wisdom?

A. Their perspective: “You’re the son of a common builder. He didn’t teach you these things, he taught you to build.”

B. The reality: It wasn’t wisdom from Joseph, it was His heavenly fathers wisdom. But Joseph, no matter how talented he was in his craft, did not teach Him to build…

1. A ship that would carry Christians safely into eternity, he may have taught Jesus to  work with stones, but he no idea that on a rock He’d build His church.

2. He did not teach Him to build a home that would last for all eternity, but that’s what Jesus is building now!

3. He didn’t teach Him to build a walkway that would bridge the gap of separation between God and man, but He did.

2. Where did He get these miraculous abilities?

A. Their perspective: “You’re the son of a common builder. You’re performing things with your hands that the hands of a common builder can’t perform!”

B. The reality: Jesus is the master builder. The only one that could claim to build things out of the very stones and pieces of wood He spoke into existence.

What does all this mean?

1. In the hands of the Master builder, you can be something better.

2. In the hands of the master builder, you can be somewhere better.

3. If you’re broken, you can be fixed. If you’re not a child of God, your life is broken.

4. You can be something better than you are. Your imperfections can be made perfect through the blood of Christ.

5. You can be somewhere better. You can be In good standing with the God above. You could be In a loving family bound for glory— the home built by God.

July 22, 2013

New Insights into Zacchaeus

Encounters With JesusThrough the Willow Creek “Midweek Experience” teaching videos, I’ve gotten to hear a number of messages by Wheaton College professor Gary M. Burge. So I was due to read one of his books, especially when I stumbled over a sale-priced copy of Encounters with Jesus: Uncover the Ancient Culture, Discover Hidden Meanings; published in 2010 by Zondervan. Clocking in at only 128 pages — and filled with pictures — finishing this book on Sunday afternoon was no major feat.

With Gary Burge’s voice audibly sounding in my head as I read the book — an advantage to having watched him teach on video — I thoroughly enjoyed his take on five specific encounters Jesus has with:

  1. The woman who was hemorrhaging
  2. Zacchaeus the tax collector
  3. The centurion with a slave who is ill
  4. The thirsty woman at the Samaritan well
  5. The Gentile woman with a sick daughter

In the case of Zacchaeus, I once again found myself in the position of having to potentially un-learn something I had been taught from infancy in Sunday School. Surely anyone who has an encounter is immediately changed, right? Maybe not so much in this case. If the interpretation here is to be considered, then Zacchaeus doesn’t have so much of a before-and-after transformation; rather, Jesus is affirming the person who Zacchaeus has always been, and the “salvation” that has come to “this house” refers more to the saving of Zacchaeus’ reputation in the wider community.

I always thought that Zacchaeus’ speech is a pledge or promise of something he is about to do to make things right, however…

…This is not what Zacchaeus says. His comment to Jesus is in the present tense. “Look! I give half of my possessions, Lord to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone, I repay them fourfold.” Greek has what we call the “future use” of the present tense and interpreters sometimes apply it here. But this is not demanded. Generally these uses imply some immediacy or certainty…

…But many scholars refuse to use it here in Luke 19. We have no suggestion that Zacchaeus needs to repent, nor does the story imply any conversion on his part. He even refers to Jesus as “Lord,” a mark of high honor and discipleship in Luke. As Joel Green remarks, “On this reading Zacchaeus does not resolve to undertake new practices but presents for Jesus’ evaluation his current behaviors regarding money.”

This would be a great revelation to the electrified audience standing on the street in Jericho. Zacchaeus is not what everyone has assumed. He has been honest; he is collecting what is demanded without corruption and abuse, and he is generously giving away large portions of his wealth. The law required that if there was financial fraud, the original amount had to be returned plus 20 percent. (Lev. 6:5)  Here Zacchaeus practices fourfold reimbursement…

When word of this emerges outside, the crowd that thought it had seen one shocking scene for the day now witnesses another. Their notorious tax farmer, who has colluded with Romans, is a man of principle. Rumors of his corruption are evaporating like a mist… (pp. 67-68)

This approach is entirely new to me. And the above excerpt is just a small portion of the insights into this story. He then goes on to discuss the implications of both “Salvation has come to this house;” and that Zacchaeus is a “son of Abraham.”

I’m not saying that this interpretation precludes anything else that you’ve been able to derive from the story. The scriptures are rich in depth. I simply offer this to you as a possibility that may be outside how you originally heard and processed this story.

Other books in this series include: The Bible and the Land, Finding the Lost Images of the Desert, Jesus and the Jewish Festivals, Jesus the Middle Eastern Storyteller, and Finding the Lost Images of God.